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Posted: August 14, 2012

Take a walk in your customers’ shoes

And sell more when you do

Liz Wendling

It’s no secret – the more you understand your customers, the more you can solve their challenges, frustrations and problems. The more you understand your customers, the more you can help them achieve their objectives and goals and minimize their pain.

Today, consumers are empowered like at no other time in history.  They have always had high expectations – to be heard, supported and valued. But never before have they had such an arsenal of tools at their disposal to ensure those expectations turn into reality.

Many business owners and sales professionals profess to be customer-focused, but the majority of them really are seller-focused. They all talk about customer service but few excel at delivering it. Ever wondered what it would be like to walk a mile in your customers' shoes? Is your company making a positive impression every step of the way?

The old adage makes sense: treat others as you would want to be treated. Those are pretty powerful words. If we could spend some time in our customers’ shoes we’d understand them a little better. We might even change some of our business habits and most likely increase sales. 

That means first understanding why your customers might want the products and services you’re offering. Then, focus on how you can make their experience the best it can be. Your customers are what make your business flourish, and if they are not satisfied they are not going to stick around. That means keeping them happy. How do you do that?  Step into their shoes and ask yourself what you want and what makes you happy in a buying situation.

Take a look at Nordstrom, a company with a customer service and satisfaction policy like no other.  It is called the “Nordstrom experience.” Nordstrom executives make sure that all employees know that they are expected to go above and beyond to accommodate a customer.

This policy is not mentioned just once; managers remind employees often, they circulate stories about employees who made bold efforts to make a customer happy, they reward employees who have gone out of their way for a customer--and they do it publicly. If you want to be known for providing an exceptional customer experience, you must attempt to do the same thing.

Your official title does not need to be a salesperson for you to benefit from taking a walk in your customers shoes.  All professional service providers, including consultants, architects, lawyers, accountants, advertising/public relations and doctors, must sell their services to attract and retain customers.   Everyone, every profession should understand what makes their customers happy and deliver it.

Most people have been conditioned to see things through their eyes, and their sales behaviors are based on these perceptions.  But your customers have a different frame of reference and have their own point of view.  The key to success in selling is your ability to get in their world, to see things from a buyer’s perspective.  This approach is customer-focused selling and it is here to stay.

The seller focused approach is no longer effective because today’s new type of buyer is unwilling to play along when you put the focus on yourself.  They do not want to be “sold,” they want to make educated buying decisions.  To make a sale, you just join them on their buying path.

You can turn this economic change into your advantage.  When you truly understand what makes your customers happy and deliver on that; you have created your own Nordstrom experience.  

Remember, it’s not what you sell it’s how you sell.





Liz Wendling is the president of Insight Business Consultants, a nationally recognized business consultant, sales strategist and emotional intelligence coach. Liz is driven by her passion for business and generating results for her clients. Liz understands the challenges that business owners are facing building a business and selling their professional services in today's market.

Liz shows clients how to tap into and use their innate strength, power and confidence to develop highly successful businesses. She teaches them to create effective, dynamic and fluid client conversations that turn interested prospects into invested clients who keep coming back.

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Readers Respond

Great. I work at Nordstrom's and the customer always comes first. Thanks for letting others know. By susan on 2012 08 14
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